Shanghai, China, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- China plans to accelerate its mass vaccination campaign so as to cover 40 percent of its population by the end of June, according to one of the leading figures in the fight against Covid-19 in the Asian country.
Zhong Nanshan, the leader of a group of experts attached to the National Health Commission, said during virtual conference overnight that they had administered a total 52.5 million doses of the vaccine across the country by the end of February.
This places China in the second position in nominal terms behind the United States, but the figure needs to seen from the perspective of China being the world’s most populous country, with 1.400 billion people.
Thus, the vaccination rate per 100 people currently stands at 3.56 percent in China, still far from the target announced by Zhong, who cited his contacts at the Center for Disease Control in the Asian country as a source.
“We still need time to reach the so called herd immunity,” said the veteran epidemiologist and pneumologist, considered the hero of China’s fight against the earlier coronavirus at caused the SARS epidemic between 2002 and 2003.
Zhong also warned of the problem posed by multiple mutations of SARS-CoV-2, the latest variant of the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19.
“So the big problem is that mutated Covid-19 virus will decrease the effectiveness of vaccinations, and also decrease the effectiveness of antibody treatment, which is the most effective treatment so far,” said the expert, and underlined the need for collaboration between major world powers.
“Improving the vaccines and cocktail antibodies is really urgent against the next wave or pandemic (…) this is why we need to have closer,” said Zhong, describing Covid-19 as the “common enemy.”
China began a mass vaccination campaign towards the end of last year, focusing on high risk groups such as cold chain workers – the country has announced on numerous occasions that it has detected viruses in frozen products imported from other countries -, customs officers, health personnel, transport workers and market employees.
The country further plans to include other groups such as the elderly or people with chronic diseases as more vaccines are approved – so far four have been permitted by the government – and production capacity is increased, before the rest of the population is inoculated. EFE-EPA